Paging Dr. Grey

Even if you can secure a reservation at the ER, it’s still not a great choice for a birthday celebration. Just sayin.

I slid the Subaru into the ER patient loading zone and jumped out to help my hobbled charge into the car. He sank slowly and safely into the mostly clean leather seat, and I grabbed his knee scooter to tuck it into the trunk.

“Well,” my husband said, as I pulled out of the hospital parking lot, “that was probably the best ER visit ever.”

I glanced at my watch. 9 p.m.

“Pretty good,” I agreed.

“No, wait! I take that back. Not the best but definitely in the top three.”

Yeeeeeaaahhhh, it says a lot about a family when you can rank visits to the emergency room.

We unanimously agreed the best trip was when No. 3, then a toddler, sneezed out the corkscrew pasta he’d shoved up his nose right in the waiting room, thus saving us a $150 copay. Runner up: No. 1, also a toddler at the time, re-setting her own dislocated elbow while reaching into the Burger King bag to grab fries in the waiting room. Although technically, that was Urgent Care.

Not even making the rankings: the tongue that required stitches after a missed slam dunk on a pool basketball hoop; the concrete chunk scratching the heck out of a cornea (Me: “Hey Joe, while you’re breaking up that tile don’t you think you should put on some googles?” Joe: “Naaaaah.”); and that time I (because I’m that tough) drove my own hypochondriacal butt to the ER just in case I truly was experiencing heart attack symptoms (thanks, internet).

Um so yeah, we’ve always struggled with finding things to do on a Saturday night, which is why we decided to go ahead and have kids.

On this most recent Saturday afternoon, we were chilling at home since the husband was fresh off surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon (Pickleball! It’s fun and potentially debilitating!) AND we’d discovered the day before that he had a partially collapsed lung, a common side effect with surgery. He’d been experiencing sharp pains and after THREE DAYS actually did something about it and saw his PCP. We canceled our weekend plans to go out clubbing and parked it on the couch. 

The phone rang.

It was his doc, sending him to the ER. Stat. He was worried about a possible blood clot.

“I feel a lot better,” Joe said.

“Which ER do you want to go to? I’ll call ahead.”

Being ER veterans, we knew we’d better eat first so we each shoveled in a slice of leftover cheesesteak pizza and left for our, ahem, reservation.

We barely had time to make butt divots in the waiting room chair cushions before getting called back. Dan the RN took down all the deets.

“Wow, well you sure know how to spend a Saturday night,” he said, as he painstakingly tapped at the computer keyboard with his two index fingers. I almost volunteered to type for him.

“Oh, that’s not all,” I said, lowering my voice conspiratorially. “It’s my birthday.”

Dan laughed. “No!”

Joe guiltily nodded his head. 

“I’m going to have to remember that one for my wife. That’s pretty awesome.”

No, Dan the RN, it is not.   

We hunkered down for the evening behind a swank striped curtain, next door to a woman with sky-high blood pressure and across the way from a guy waiting to get into detox, who was loudly arguing and laughing with what sounded like an imaginary burrito.

Tucked in our little corner, we played the Mini NYT Crossword along with some other word games, and then Joe discovered, to his delight, he could stream the NBA playoff game. At one point, he screamed at something that happened on screen, I dunno what because I was busy texting out updates to people.

“Maybe not the best idea to yell the ER?” I suggested. 

Then I realized, as I listened to someone in the hallway shouting that he needed help, this is actually the PERFECT place to scream.

In the end, score one for the PCP — there was a clot, a small one, in the right lung. We were thankful to have caught it. 

While I wouldn’t go so far as to rank this in my top 3 birthdays, I did — as my friend Patty noted — get to go out after all.

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